No by-laws framed by ASI to protect Braj heritage, reveals RTI

Mathura-Vrindavan is a sub-circle (along with seven others) of the ASI Agra Circle. Vrindavan has four monuments protected by ASI.

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Vrindavan, 2020-10-20 (VT): In a shocking reply to lawyer and heritage conservation activist Akash Vashishtha’s RTI query, the ASI has revealed that not a single heritage by-law has been prepared/framed for centrally ‘Protected Monuments’ under the jurisdiction of the Agra circle, as required under Section 20E of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.

 

Mathura-Vrindavan is a sub-circle (along with seven others) of the ASI Agra Circle. Vrindavan has four monuments protected by ASI, though there are many other unprotected heritage sites, particularly the ghats, which need to be adopted by the government.

Heritage by-laws are the most basic and non-negotiable requirement for preserving the cultural tradition of Braj-Vrindavan. The kunj-galis, heritage ashrams and ghats need government support for both revival as well as survival in the long run. Other than preserving the existing heritage, laws are needed to ensure new architecture is harmoniously synced with it in terms of aesthetics, design and texture. Unfortunately, such intent on the part of the government has been lacking.

The reply misguides stating that only 13 centrally protected monuments exist under the jurisdiction of Agra Circle.

Further it says that only eight detailed site-plans have been prepared under Section 20E(4) for the 265 monuments under the Agra Circle's jurisdiction. As many as 36 bye-laws are still under process (meaning still not prepared since the 2010 amendment). Only 36 survey maps have been prepared so far, as against the 328 monuments/sites existing under the jurisdiction of this circle. 

 

Responding to Vrindavan Today, Akash Vashishtha said, “It is appalling that the ASI  hasn’t even framed by-laws for conservation/protection of  UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and the Jhansi Fort; what to speak of the small protected temples of Mathura-Vrindavan then.”

 

“The glorious architectural legacy of Braj is being lost due to ASI’s neglect. If conserved, it could create vast tourism opportunities for the state, and therefore, increase the revenue manifold,” he added.

 

The Agra Circle (erstwhile Northern Circle) is one of the oldest circles of the ASI. It was established in the year 1885, with its headquarters at 22, the Mall, Agra. Eminent personalities like R. Froude Tucker, M. Muhammad Shuaib, Gordon Sanderson, H. Hargreaves, J.F. Blackiston, J.A. Page, Maulavi Zafar Hassan, M.S. Vats, K.N. Puri, B.B. Lal, S.C. Chandra, S.R. Rao, N.R. Banerjee, Y.D. Sharma, D.R. Patil, W.H. Siddiqui and other scholars have headed the Circle.

There are 266 monuments /sites under the jurisdiction of Agra Circle spreading in 26 districts of Western Uttar Pradesh including those of three World Heritage Monuments viz. Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, all of the Mughal period and located in district of Agra. The Circle is conserving and managing the monuments and sites through its eight sub-circle viz. Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Sikandara, Itimad-ud-Daulah, Mathura, Kannauj and Meerut.

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